Burnout is a very real concept which many psychologists are currently discussing and detailing together with ways on how to overcome, preempt, and ensure you don’t end up burning out. With lockdown and isolation, it has become a big talking point as burnout is being felt by many. Cabin fever, staying in, and working from home all without our usual or regular releases are taking their toll. However, most of the conversation is about work. It’s important to understand that burnout can affect and can be triggered in and by fitness as well.
Most of us don’t have much fitness equipment at home, and are therefore performing our training at a higher intensity, more reps, sets, and circuits, or even more cardiovascular based exercise. HIIT (high intensity interval training) has also had sort of resurgence and many trainers and coaches are giving online classes or sessions as such live.
At the same time, the common feeling is that we have to keep training as such and keep going hard. For a lot of us, our sanity almost depends on it. There are also many people who are taking this lockdown as an opportunity to work on their fitness and start exercising, many for the first time. Although exercise is a good and positive thing and should have a positive impact, many are jumping in at the deep end and seem determined to take an hour long HIIT class on a daily basis and are hoping and begging to see results on a daily basis.
There is a problem here, and I’m seeing it pop up now and on the rise over many social media platforms and groups. The problem is over working ourselves – burnout. Yes, burnout is just as real in fitness. It will cause fatigue, and many are starting to feel it. Fitness fatigue can impact not only one’s fitness activity and goals, but also the other aspects of one’s life. And adversely work or other burnout and fatigue will impact one’s fitness and physical activity.
This burnout and fatigue brings with it more stress, lower motivation, drive, effort which can spiral into a wider cycle of not such good feelings. It is already a stressful time and ultimately, it can and will lead to lower energy, less work, exercise, and even turn what you originally were enjoying doing and extremely motivated to do, become a huge struggle and make you unhappy instead of being a good and positive thing and helping you cope with the circumstances.
I’m talking from what I have experienced myself and am now seeing it in many places on the many social media groups that have been created for fitness during lockdown. This can be an issue as discussed in the conversation of overcommitting even in normal circumstances and possibly even more so in abnormally demanding and stressful times.
I’m not saying don’t exercise, work on your fitness, or push yourself. In fact, I am a big advocate of these and I constantly try to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves. What I am saying, however, is to be conscious and aware about burnout and over commitment.
Take rest days, and allow yourself to relax at times. It’s easy to feel that we’re not working hard enough especially now because we can’t push ourselves in the usual manner, but in reality exhaustion and overworking isn’t good for fitness or life.
Yes, do take advantage of the influx of fitness material and classes now available (make sure it’s form reputable and qualified sources), but do take breaks. Start off at good pace and increase your intensity and effort as you go over time rather than all at once. Allow yourself to breathe and try different kinds of training that maybe you wouldn’t usually have time for.
Make sure to keep eating, and don’t just drastically cut your nutritional intake. Don’t expect to see a complete transformation overnight. Push yourself, work hard, but don’t make yourself unhappy. If you feel yourself slipping into exhaustion, overwork, burnout, or fatigue, take a break, a rest day or two. Try a less intense kind of exercise. Go for a walk, if you can and are allowed to of course, instead.
It’s something I found out the hard way. In terms of sustainability, doing it in a good way can be almost as important as doing it in the first place when it comes to our health and wellness. Stay safe, stay active, stay well!
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This article was originally written by Mosh Cohen for and posted on LIFE ON FITNESS on the 8th of May 2020.